John Carter, more than almost any movie that I’ve seen in awhile, grows on you in subsequent viewings as small things that almost invariably strengthen the viewing experience “stick” on subsequent viewings. An example — the relationship progression between John Carter and Dejah Thoris. On the first viewing I felt that it was rushed and that “the kiss” came a couple of scenes too soon. But on subsequent viewings I picked up on subtle bits of interaction that I missed the first time around and and pacing seemed better.
Last night I stumbled across Thelma and Louise, one of my all-time favorite movies, and after watching it I remembered that on a first viewing I really didn’t buy the ending. It was much like John Carter in that I felt, the first time around, that there wasn’t enough there to justify the grand crazy gesture that winds it up. But then on subsequent viewings–knowing how it was going to end — I found myself being more attuned to moments throughout the movie that are basically laying the foundation and setting the stage for the climax.
Audience rating wise, Thelma and Louise and John Carter are both in the 70%++ range, but the critics loved Thelma and Louise and were quite divided on John Carter.
One thought is that a movie like Thelma and Louise is one in which the critics are set up, expecting to have to dig a little bit for nuance. It’s a film that turns on character, not spectacle, and in this case the critics were ahead of the general viewership in being able to appreciate the value of the film on a single viewing, rating it substantially higher than the audience. Yet in the case of John Carter the general viewers rated the film higher than the critics……is there a lesson there?
Oh, and the other thing the two movies have in common? The plainest titles ever. With Thelma and Louise, the plain title works brilliantly. With John Carter — not so much.